Wendy’s Embraces Automation with More Self-Service Kiosks

Wendy’s Embraces Automation with More Self-Service Kiosks

Wendy’s, which began installing self-service ordering kiosks at its restaurants last year, plans to add them to over 1,000 stores this year, the Los Angeles Times’ Shan Li reported this week:

At Wendy’s, Chief Information Officer David Trimm said that customers and franchisees have taken a liking to the kiosks. “You will see customers deliberately going to those kiosks directly, bypassing lines,” Trimm said during the company’s investor day Feb. 16. “Some customers clearly prefer to use the kiosks.”

There’s “a huge amount” of demand among franchisees, who will shell out about $15,000 for three kiosks, Trimm said. Wendy’s has estimated that the cost will be recouped in less than two years, he said.

Automated ordering is also a way to help cut labor costs in the face of rising minimum wages throughout the US, ostensibly supporting the argument often made by critics of the minimum wage that these hikes merely encourage employers to automate low-wage roles:

In the long term, many chains are looking toward kiosks as a way to reduce their employee headcount, especially as wages rise. … For Wendy’s, kiosks are part of an overall move into automation that could cut labor costs, said Robert Wright, chief operations officer. He called 2016 a “tough” year, with wages rising 5% compared with 2015.

Yet Greg Miller at Wall Street Daily argues that focusing on minimum wage increases as the cause of this trend is misguided—these jobs are getting automated regardless:

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